Issuing a subpoena in California -- as in every state across the nation -- is a result of the court's desire for a person or a piece of evidence to appear in court. In most instances, an individual does not file for a subpoena directly; rather, he petitions the court for a particular legal matter and the court files the subpoena. Alternatively, in California, if you are representing yourself in a court matter, you can fill out and file a subpoena and submit it through the court.
Visit the office of the clerk for the California court that will hear ultimately your case.
Present at least two current forms of identification to the clerk -- a driver's license and Social Security card, for example -- and your court case identification number. The court case number proves that the case is pending and you are forgoing standard legal representation and representing yourself in the matter.
Ask the clerk for the subpoena form that meets your needs. Request a civil subpoena, for example, if you need a California resident to appear in court as a witness. Discovery subpoenas, on the other hand, are issued to demand that a person living outside of the state appear in court. Ask for a deposition subpoena to compel an individual to appear before the court regarding legal business matters or to produce business-related evidence. Notice subpoenas are alternative forms that demand persons to produce evidence in court.
Fully complete each subpoena form. List your full name and contact information. State the name of the defendant and state what date and time he must appear in court. Provide contact information for the witness -- the person being served with a subpoena -- to use if he has any questions. Print and sign your name at the bottom. Add the court case number and any additional information, as prompted by prefabricated instructions on the form.
Make two copies of each subpoena form and return it to the clerk for submission. Provide the original and one set of copies to the clerk -- the original for court records and a copy for the witness. Keep the second set of copies for your own personal legal records.